Film festival showcases students’ skill, passion

The personal impacts of the southside explosion and of suicide are two of the topics covered at this year’s Johnson County Film Festival, a showcase of short films produced by high school students.

These are not home movies or YouTube videos shot with a smartphone. They are polished documentaries that aren’t afraid to confront serious issues. Students have been working on their projects throughout the year and will have the chance for their work to be screened at the Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin on March 6.

The theme of this year’s event is “A Story That Needs to be Told.” Submissions were due last week. Volunteer judges will watch each film, scoring them based on criteria such as audio and video production quality, sources and originality. After two rounds of scoring, a grouping of top-eight films will emerge.

Students from Franklin, Whiteland and Martinsville plan to enter films, but the festival is open to any high school student in the area.

The film festival has become an annual cinematic opportunity for high school students since 2010. Don Wettrick, a broadcast teacher at Franklin Community High School, founded it to give his and other students a chance to put together in-depth, long-term projects looking at community issues.

After Wettrick took a job at Noblesville High School last year, Jeff Clawson, broadcast teacher at Whiteland Community High School, agreed to help spearhead the event this year.

“As a teacher, it’s great because a documentary film is such a unique storytelling experience compared to the other types of production we do,” Clawson said. “That alone is worth it, for the students to go through that process and learn what it takes to produce a quality documentary.”

He added, “They’re showcasing their work in front of people who live around you and invest in what they do.”

The festival is open to the public. It’s an opportunity for people to see young filmmakers at work and to see how seriously, compassionately and passionately they approach their work.

If you can, attend the festival on March 6 and support these young artists. You are likely to come away impressed by their skill and moved by the subjects they examine.

If you go

Johnson County Film Festival

When: 7:30 p.m. March 6; doors open at 6:30

Where: Historic Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St., Franklin

What: Eight of the best short documentaries created by area high school students will be screened, with the top four receiving awards.

Cost: $5 for adults, $3 or two-for-$5 for students with ID. Half of the proceeds go to the Whiteland Community High School dance marathon.


At issue

The student film festival in Franklin is far more than YouTube videos.

Our point

The young filmmakers tackle issues of substance in a professional way.